A House Divided

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.                                                                  Matthew 12:25

Abraham Lincoln gave the famous “House Divided” speech in 1858 in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois. This concept and actual language came from Matthew 12:25 where Jesus was refuting those who claimed that his miracles of casting out demons was through the power of Satan himself. Jesus gave a brilliant and logical refutation. Indeed, he argued, if he used the power of Satan to cast out demons, that would be self-defeating. A house divided against itself cannot stand for long.

Lincoln, in his vision and leadership, much of which was informed from a good knowledge of the Bible, used this wisdom over and over in his Presidency. In his second inaugural address in March, 1865, just weeks before his untimely death, he was eloquent in using Biblical references to try to rally a nation nearing the end of the cataclysmic Civil War. He said things like “but let us judge not, that we be not judged,” from Matthew 7:1. He quotes several other Bible passages, and concludes with the magnificent prose “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” This is a re-work of Psalm 147:3 where he is trying to use these words to literally and figuratively heal a broken and bleeding nation.

Lincoln had the wisdom to use the wisdom of the ages, the Bible, to try to heal a nation that could not be healed with simply political and military solutions. I believe that Abraham Lincoln was the greatest President ever to grace our nation.

I think that Lincoln knew where his strength came from, and that knowledge, that humility, was a gift to our country.

Prayer: As we reflect back on our history, we see that leaders following your truth can lead us in difficult times. Thank you for the words that can heal, Amen.

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